Author Topic: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?  (Read 7608 times)

gipsygrrl

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Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« on: January 19, 2017, 12:27:25 PM »
Hi all. My husband and I are considering buying a small camper... either an all-weather pop-up or a small enclosed camper. We love to tent camp, but now have a 2 year old kiddo and are thinking that a camper will give us more protection from the elements and make traveling with the kid a bit easier. We live in Colorado and would like to get out to the many great spots around us, and we'd also love to be able to camp in the fall/spring without being as exposed to the elements as we are in tents.

I guess I'm wondering if campers, by default, are a waste of money. I'm worried that sites for them will be more expensive/harder to find than tent sites. I'm concerned about the vehicle we'd need to pull one (we don't have anything now that's sufficient). And I'm wondering if this is one of those things that SEEM like a cool idea, but will sit in our driveway all year.

On the pro side: we love to travel and love to be outside, but are struggling to find a way to do this more with a kid. I think a camper would be cheaper in the long run than renting cabins every couple of months, which is what we did a bunch last year. And cheaper/more feasible for sure than buying a second home in the mountains (though that may be a long-term goal)... this seems like a good solution for the next 5-6 years or so. Thoughts from people that have them?

boarder42

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2017, 12:34:12 PM »
youre saying think and assuming alot.

do the math put pen to paper what does the camper cost. can you get a reasonable rate loan so all that money isnt tied up in the camper instead of invested - if not assume 7% investment returns lost on the cost of the camper. then add the following
1. storage costs
2. licensing costs
3. Property taxes
4. maintenance
5. the cost of the larger vehicle to tow it - and increased gas costs if it becomes a daily driver
6. normal camp site costs.
7. extra gas cost to tow it vs drive your economy car.
see if all that adds up to more than the cost of your cabins.  chances are unless you're using it a couple months a year they dont

also look into travel hacking to offset some of the cabin costs.

and if you must get it ... the Highlander hybrids 07 and newer can tow up to 3500lbs which is quite a bit and if you drive it correctly it will get over 30 mpgs.

Trifele

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2017, 12:47:29 PM »
Hi Gipsy
We love to camp as well and we have seriously considered getting a camper, but I could not justify it financially.  When you total up all the costs it was not worth it for us.  We just tent camp with our kids and love it. We started when they were literally babies.  We haven't backpacked with the kids yet, but car/walk-in camping at typical campgrounds?  No problem with kids.  We have friends that have four kids and the six of them tent camp all the time.  I would try tent camping first with the little one before you decide it won't work.  You could borrow a larger tent if all you have is a small one.  Sometimes that extra tent space is all you really need.
Good luck!
 
« Last Edit: January 19, 2017, 12:55:24 PM by Trifele »

robartsd

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2017, 01:29:04 PM »
My family camped in a big tent with small children growing up. It certainly is possible to do.

If you do decide that a camper would be useful to you, a pop-up tent trailer might fit the bill. Lower profile and less weight reduces the tow vehicle requirements and they don't take as much space to store. While there is a bit more set up required than a full camper, it really isn't that much more and is still quite a bit less work than setting up a large tent.

gipsygrrl

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2017, 01:48:29 PM »
Thanks for those responses. We have tent camped with the kiddo and did great - we'd just like to do it into the spring and fall too. It's pretty cold/snowy in the mountains at night, and we're thinking that an all-weather setup might let us get out a lot more.

But yes, the costs may be prohibitive. We'll buy something used and store it on our property, but factoring in a larger vehicle would probably be the biggest thing to consider. I'll have to do the math on whether everything combined would be less than renting houses/cabins wherever we go. I guess I was thinking we'd have more flexibility with our own camper, and wanted to hear from anyone who's tried that route.

Khaetra

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2017, 01:48:50 PM »
You can get used popups pretty cheap if that's what you're looking at.  I would try tenting first though, to see if it's doable and if not then look into something else.

bmiles62

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2017, 01:52:55 PM »
We have been tent camping across the US for the last three summers and last year decided to go with a small pop up. We have only taken it on a few trips so far but we really like it. We can still pull it with our Prius so it is not adding much in the way of cost. We are taking a 6 week trip across the US this summer so we will really see how it goes. Of course pulling it adds  a little bit of headache but I think we will enjoy the extra space and being off the ground. BTW the camper I got from my Dad. He bought it in 1964 and has had it ever since.

Raeon

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2017, 02:06:47 PM »
youre saying think and assuming alot.

do the math put pen to paper what does the camper cost. can you get a reasonable rate loan so all that money isnt tied up in the camper instead of invested - if not assume 7% investment returns lost on the cost of the camper. then add the following
1. storage costs
2. licensing costs
3. Property taxes
4. maintenance
5. the cost of the larger vehicle to tow it - and increased gas costs if it becomes a daily driver
6. normal camp site costs.
7. extra gas cost to tow it vs drive your economy car.
see if all that adds up to more than the cost of your cabins.  chances are unless you're using it a couple months a year they dont

also look into travel hacking to offset some of the cabin costs.

and if you must get it ... the Highlander hybrids 07 and newer can tow up to 3500lbs which is quite a bit and if you drive it correctly it will get over 30 mpgs.

This. I apply this thinking to any large purchase. I think about it for weeks, research, run the numbers a bunch of times. Usually by the time I finish thinking about it, I don't want it anymore.

My quick estimate method is a 2 years rule. If it doesn't pay for itself (via savings over current expenditures)  in 2 years or less, don't buy it. The opportunity cost of the money invested elsewhere is too high.

If it doesn't pay for itself at all, it better be giving a massive improvement to quality of life or free time.

I say stick to a tent or a very inexpensive pop-up bought used. My best memories as a kid camping were the time with family, playing in the woods, and cooking over the fire. Where I spent my sleeping hours meant nothing to me.

canyonrider

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2017, 02:33:16 PM »
Timely post. We also live in Colorado and bought a 19-foot fiberglass camper last year for similar reasons. It's sitting in our driveway now. =)

We went into it with eyes wide open that it is an absolute luxury item that comes with a real financial tradeoff. We have two small kids (3 and 6) and spent many nights tent camping with them when they were younger. My wife and I were both die-hard tent campers (backpack and car camping) before kids. But after being unexpectedly forced into motels a couple of times because of harsh weather in southern Utah, and dealing with the kids waking up at 6 a.m. on frosty summer mornings in the mountains, we decided that a hard-sided trailer was the way to go. So far it has been great, we spent nearly 30 nights in it last year and will probably spend about the same this year. Several random thoughts to consider:

- The camper has expanded our ability to camp almost year-round, and has made even "summer" camping (which around here, as you know, often means low temps in the 30s) much, much more relaxing and fun with the kids. We spent multiple late-fall weekends in Rocky Mountain NP, and Thanksgiving week in Moab, all with nighttime temps in the 20s without giving it a second thought.

- We decided a pop-up didn't offer enough benefits over a tent to make the added costs and hassles associated with towing a trailer worth it. If I'm going to be towing, having something with a hard side and bathroom for the places and times of year we camp was key for us. That said, we have lots of friends with pop-ups that love them, plus they can generally be towed with a wider range of vehicles.

- 19 feet (from trailer bumper to hitch) is about as big as I would want to go. Many USFS sites in the Rockies are designed for a max trailer length of ~20 feet (and we can store it in our driveway). If we only had one kid instead of two, I would go with something smaller or even a truck bed camper or van instead.

- Finding a site has not been an issue. In some instances it has made it easier, by allowing us to pull out on the side of BLM and USFS roads without searching for a place to pitch a tent.

- When evaluating the tow capacity of your vehicle, take manufacturer's numbers with a grain of salt and make sure your vehicle has a greater capacity than you will actually be towing. As towing neophytes, we learned the hard way that a vehicle's tow capacity does not necessarily account for towing up and down Colorado's mountain passes at altitude with kids, water, propane, camping gear, bikes, etc. all on board. We ended up swapping our old SUV for a vehicle that has a higher tow capacity, even though the listed tow capacity for our old SUV was around 2000 lbs greater than the dry weight of our camper.

On balance, despite the unexpected purchase of a different vehicle, the camper has been worth it for us. Only you can evaluate if your anticipated use as a family will be worth the expense.


jac941

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2017, 03:31:25 PM »
We have tent camped with the kiddo and did great - we'd just like to do it into the spring and fall too. It's pretty cold/snowy in the mountains at night, and we're thinking that an all-weather setup might let us get out a lot more.

I would recommend a bigger tent (so you can actually hang out inside at night) and upgrading the kid's sleeping bag to something winter appropriate and toddler sized before deciding that cold/snowy spring and fall is too uncomfortable for tent camping. We have the Big Agnes Little Red 15 (https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Bag/littlered152016) for our kids. There's a sleeve on the bottom of the bag for the sleeping pad that makes it pretty hard for the kid to roll off onto the cold ground. We bought Thermarest pads for our kids because they have a higher r-value than the Big Agnes pads. The whole setup is quite toasty -- we've camped at temps in the 30s with no complaints from the kids. I'm betting they'd be fine into the low 20s, though the 15 degree rating might be a bit of a stretch.

If you want to get a little more posh, there are portable tent heaters that you can add to the setup. Between the fancy sleeping bag & pad and a nice tent heater, you'll be out maybe $200-$250. Much much less than a camper.

And if that doesn't work for you, then reexplore your camper option.

TheMCP

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2017, 06:44:51 PM »
"Camper" is almost too broad a term... if you are talking about something like a small pop up, you can probably tow it with an existing vehicle and it won't be all that expensive.  That said, it will be more towards the "tent" side of the experience and if you think you might be happy doing that, the cost of entry to try tent camping is pretty low.

If you're talking about something with hard sides, a bathroom, heat and AC... a car isn't going to tow it and it'll be more expensive.  On the other hand, camping with a bathroom, stove, a real bed, heat and AC isn't even similar to camping in a tent.

My personal experience, My wife and I got into camping for dirt bike races that were far away and started early in the morning.  We started in a tent years ago... now we have a full trailer.  There is no way I would have spent the money back then, and today there is no way I would be as excited about going camping if it was in a tent.  They're just very different experiences.

Its certainly expensive though and especially because you don't have a tow vehicle already, if you're looking at this from a purely financial standpoint it's going to be really hard to come out ahead of buying a nice tent and doing that, and if you want something more comfortable once in a while getting the cabin (even if you do this a fair amount).

whiskeyjack

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2017, 08:10:17 PM »
When we did the math on this we decided it would be quite a lot cheaper and less hassle to tent camp in good weather and rent cabins when tents didn't seem like as much fun.

Metric Mouse

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2017, 01:53:51 AM »
Well, I mean it's not a boat....

Yeah, campers are pretty Anti-MMM I would say, unless they are in the running for primary residence.

pbkmaine

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2017, 02:20:50 AM »
If you do decide to buy something, put the word out. There are scads of lightly used campers out there. It seems like most people think they will use them much more than they do.

boarder42

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2017, 03:34:31 AM »
Well, I mean it's not a boat....

Yeah, campers are pretty Anti-MMM I would say, unless they are in the running for primary residence.

I hate this statement. There are mustachians ways to own a boat. And I use mine way more than 30days a year as someone stated their luxury camper was used.

Also mustachians ways to own a camper.  Buy in the off season use for a summer while kids are out of school visiting national parks. Sell for a profit.

I do similar things with boats.

See article MMM wrote about the car guy.

I'm of the opinion most anything if done properly can be frugal.

Also my boat ownership likely hurts the environment less than the guy towing a camper around 30days a year as I live on a small lake and use it for recreational sports.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2017, 04:34:09 AM »
<...>
On the pro side: we love to travel and love to be outside, but are struggling to find a way to do this more with a kid. I think a camper would be cheaper in the long run than renting cabins every couple of months, which is what we did a bunch last year. And cheaper/more feasible for sure than buying a second home in the mountains (though that may be a long-term goal)... this seems like a good solution for the next 5-6 years or so. Thoughts from people that have them?

How about buying the second home in the mountains now, use it during your holidays and rent it out for the rest of the time? A house is practical when having small children. You can use your (bigger) tent as well when you want to go to some other spot.

At least, calculate whether this would pay off.

Miss Prim

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2017, 07:06:52 AM »
We always had a used truck camper to camp with our kids (2) as I liked to camp but hated tents.  We already had a truck because we did a lot of hauling of lumber, dry wall, DIY stuff plus we chopped and hauled firewood for heating.

We took a lot of inexpensive vacations in those truck campers and had a lot of fun.  We usually sold them after a few years, most of the time breaking even, and bought something else used that was a little better for a little more money. 

Now we have a 24ft used travel trailer that we spend at least a month in every year travelling to national parks in the fall.  We stayed with boondockerswelcome.com people for most of our trip, only spending 5 nights paying for a camp site.  I consider that pretty mustachian.

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littlebird

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2017, 07:13:07 AM »
I don't know what kind of tent you're using now, but have you considered a larger, hardier tent? For example, the Big Agnes flying diamond 6 https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Tent/FlyingDiamond62017

It's an expensive tent for sure, but still way cheaper than a camper. A bomb-proof tent like this would easily allow you to camp in the shoulder seasons since you can really batten down the hatches and hang out in there if a storm rolls in.

I have only limited experience with tent trailers but I don't really understand them. They take just as long to set up as a tent, but are way more expensive and have to be hauled. If you're thinking a hard camper that will be quite a different wilderness experience.

boarder42

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2017, 07:13:54 AM »
thats a pretty fantastic site Prim. Thanks for that link ... bookmarking for future use in 6-7 years.

farmecologist

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2017, 07:56:36 AM »
We have been tent camping across the US for the last three summers and last year decided to go with a small pop up. We have only taken it on a few trips so far but we really like it. We can still pull it with our Prius so it is not adding much in the way of cost. We are taking a 6 week trip across the US this summer so we will really see how it goes. Of course pulling it adds  a little bit of headache but I think we will enjoy the extra space and being off the ground. BTW the camper I got from my Dad. He bought it in 1964 and has had it ever since.

That is pretty nifty.  Looks like an optimal size for a small car like the Prius.

I have also heard of couples using their Prius as a 'camper'.  It is surprisingly workable for summer camping.  You can set up a mattress in the back if you fold down the rear seats.  Then leave the Prius 'ON' with the climate control running and the car will run the electric A/C.  Engine will only run sparingly to charge the battery.  This is a perfect 'mustachian' package for many people.  Just google it...there are tons of youtube videos, etc..about it.


boarder42

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2017, 08:02:43 AM »
We have been tent camping across the US for the last three summers and last year decided to go with a small pop up. We have only taken it on a few trips so far but we really like it. We can still pull it with our Prius so it is not adding much in the way of cost. We are taking a 6 week trip across the US this summer so we will really see how it goes. Of course pulling it adds  a little bit of headache but I think we will enjoy the extra space and being off the ground. BTW the camper I got from my Dad. He bought it in 1964 and has had it ever since.

That is pretty nifty.  Looks like an optimal size for a small car like the Prius.

I have also heard of couples using their Prius as a 'camper'.  It is surprisingly workable for summer camping.  You can set up a mattress in the back if you fold down the rear seats.  Then leave the Prius 'ON' with the climate control running and the car will run the electric A/C.  Engine will only run sparingly to charge the battery.  This is a perfect 'mustachian' package for many people.  Just google it...there are tons of youtube videos, etc..about it.

whats the height limit on this.  i'm guessing sub 5/6 ... and i'm pushing 6/4

Prairie Stash

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2017, 08:03:17 AM »
In similar situation, I went with a 8' aluminum trailer instead and installed a hidden hitch on my car (DIY, its not a hard project). It has the extra capacity to haul a bigger tent, foam mattresses for the kids, dry firewood and other extras. I also use it for hauling lumber, branches furniture and whatever a truck would do. With a 1500 lb tow capacity I still can accomplish larger jobs, since I'm the guy loading it 600-700 lbs seems like a lot of lifting and I don't want to make extra work for myself (I leave a large buffer). With a fancier tent the setup/take down is under 2 minutes, look into a better quality tent if you're doing car camping. Its extra weight and they do poorly for backpacking, they each have their place.

Personally I like the rigour of tenting over campers. Sure they suck sometimes, but I'd rather my kids experience nature with its variety of weather than learn to escape it in an air conditioned, heated, satellite TV, mobile home. Campers are great for some people, but they're essentially apartments on wheels, that's not my idea of camping. As they get older I'll teach them outdoors survival skills and they'll become masters out of necessity, its a fun hobby.

Sometimes its the hardships that are the most memorable, like the time I was winter camping and the temperature dropped drastically. It was painful, miserable and cold, but as Nietzche postulated "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

Spork

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2017, 08:06:47 AM »
A travel trailer is in our long term plans as well.  And, yeah, buying the tow vehicle is probably going to be the biggest ongoing cost. 

Our plan is to buy something used and probably vintage and fix it up.  (For me, the fix-it-up project sounds as much fun as the travel trailer.)

boarder42

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2017, 08:07:08 AM »
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Black-Zone-Hard-Shell-Roof-Top-Tent-For-Car-Truck-Fits-1-2-People-USA-/302198140940?hash=item465c69b00c:g:m0kAAOSwXeJYGRzJ

a bit pricier but dont have to tow it and gets you off the ground.

I've been watching these waiting for a steal in the 200-400 range.

farmecologist

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2017, 08:20:19 AM »
We have been tent camping across the US for the last three summers and last year decided to go with a small pop up. We have only taken it on a few trips so far but we really like it. We can still pull it with our Prius so it is not adding much in the way of cost. We are taking a 6 week trip across the US this summer so we will really see how it goes. Of course pulling it adds  a little bit of headache but I think we will enjoy the extra space and being off the ground. BTW the camper I got from my Dad. He bought it in 1964 and has had it ever since.

That is pretty nifty.  Looks like an optimal size for a small car like the Prius.

I have also heard of couples using their Prius as a 'camper'.  It is surprisingly workable for summer camping.  You can set up a mattress in the back if you fold down the rear seats.  Then leave the Prius 'ON' with the climate control running and the car will run the electric A/C.  Engine will only run sparingly to charge the battery.  This is a perfect 'mustachian' package for many people.  Just google it...there are tons of youtube videos, etc..about it.

whats the height limit on this.  i'm guessing sub 5/6 ... and i'm pushing 6/4

Here is a good article with some good pictures :

   http://www.rosipov.com/blog/urban-prius-living/
   http://www.rosipov.com/blog/prius-adventures-a-year-later/

This person is 5'11" and says there was "more than enough space".   

Here is one where the poster is 6'3"..this is an an older generation model though :

   http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2012/8/prius-camping--new-improved

At any rate, the key to this is the fact that you can run the A/C in an efficient manner...like a 'mini RV'.  I'm assuming other Hybrids would function the same way.


boarder42

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2017, 08:23:52 AM »
We have been tent camping across the US for the last three summers and last year decided to go with a small pop up. We have only taken it on a few trips so far but we really like it. We can still pull it with our Prius so it is not adding much in the way of cost. We are taking a 6 week trip across the US this summer so we will really see how it goes. Of course pulling it adds  a little bit of headache but I think we will enjoy the extra space and being off the ground. BTW the camper I got from my Dad. He bought it in 1964 and has had it ever since.

That is pretty nifty.  Looks like an optimal size for a small car like the Prius.

I have also heard of couples using their Prius as a 'camper'.  It is surprisingly workable for summer camping.  You can set up a mattress in the back if you fold down the rear seats.  Then leave the Prius 'ON' with the climate control running and the car will run the electric A/C.  Engine will only run sparingly to charge the battery.  This is a perfect 'mustachian' package for many people.  Just google it...there are tons of youtube videos, etc..about it.

whats the height limit on this.  i'm guessing sub 5/6 ... and i'm pushing 6/4

Here is a good article with some good pictures :

   http://www.rosipov.com/blog/urban-prius-living/
   http://www.rosipov.com/blog/prius-adventures-a-year-later/

This person is 5'11" and says there was "more than enough space".   

Here is one where the poster is 6'3"..this is an an older generation model though :

   http://www.nagelphotography.com/blog/2012/8/prius-camping--new-improved

At any rate, the key to this is the fact that you can run the A/C in an efficient manner...like a 'mini RV'.  I'm assuming other Hybrids would function the same way.

yeah i have a Ford escape hybrid and i dont fit in that.  though we may be getting a highlander hybrid. surely i''ll fit in that

jeninco

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2017, 10:29:36 AM »
When our oldest was about 3 months, we looked at each other in horror, said "how are we ever going to camp again?" went out and bought a VW Eurovan. For cash. 15 years later we're still driving the thing, and it's made regular outdoor activities far, far easier.  (There are now four of us.)

We take it to canyon country in Utah for car camping 1-3 times per year. (And usually set up a tent, but the van is base camp, especially if the bugs are out. Or the wind is blowing -- sand + contacts are not a great mix.) It's not 4-wheel drive, but has gotten us down plenty of sandy, bumpy roads. We sometimes mount a bike rack on the back, so we can drive to within a few miles of the hike we want and then pedal when the roads get too sketchy.
We take it to the Colorado high country and use it as a base camp
It's easy to use as the transportation vehicle for backpacking trips.
I can (and have) haul half a soccer team (with all the seats in, we can carry the driver + 6).

Also, it's fantastic to take to smaller ski areas like Monarch where you can park close to the base area. We've spent many, many lunches sprawled out in the car: there's a pop-up table, and it's easy to spread out luxury lunches.
We also take an annual anniversary trip to Rocky Mountain Nat. Park, where we generally take a crockpot of step and eat dinner on the rocks while listening to the elk and watching the stars come out and the satellites go by overhead.

In general, it's a comfy vehicle to hang out in as necessary. Both kids play soccer, and it's an easy place for half the team to hang out if it's raining, or between games, or for an adult to set up a laptop (again, on the table) and work for a couple of hours.

All these things can be managed other ways (tent camping, squeezing into the backseat, whatever...) but this vehicle makes them a lot more convenient. The skiing thing (did I mention how easy it is for everyone to put on their boots in the back of the van?) is especially handy for us.
(Also, we live and work and shop in a <3 mile radius, so we generally ride bikes or walk. The van has about 95K miles on it in almost 16 years, and it's taken some longer trips.)

mm1970

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2017, 10:41:25 AM »
I think you have to do the math, and it will depend.

I looked at getting a teardrop trailer that would sleep 3 and could be towed by our Matrix (in other words, about 1000 lbs).

I didn't do it, and here's why:
1.  I like to camp but we don't do it that often.  Once or twice a year and we don't have enough vacation time to go too much more than that.
2.  I got pregnant with #2, which meant a bigger trailer and a bigger car
3.  My husband is tired of camping and prefers hotels/ apartments/ condos.

However, my next door neighbors have a camper van.  There are DEFINITE advantages.  They use it a ton, (many many times a year) and can boondock.
- They don't pay for storage
- They do pay for campsites every few days, but can boondock in between and use BLM lands
- They go for 2 to 4 weeks in the summer

We camped with them once where it was so windy our tent blew down.  They squeezed their family of 5 into the "upstairs" and put my husband and son downstairs.  I slept in the back of the matrix (pre kid #2).

Financially it may be a tossup, and I think it will depend on how much you use it.  There's probably a certain # of days that makes it worthwhile.

ToTheMoon

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #28 on: January 20, 2017, 10:52:55 AM »
We loved to tent camp, but once we had an infant, a two year old, and two big dogs, the tent camping became a comedy of errors.

We purchased a 1996 tent trailer (pop-up) so that we would be up off of the ground (pure luxury in our opinion) and so that we could separate the kids to get them to settle to sleep.  Bonus that it came with a roof rack so we could throw bikes/kayaks on it and go.  We camped more in the next 3 summers than we ever had before! 

Now that the kiddos are older, we will be selling it and returning to tent camping.  I am fairly certain that we will be able to sell it for what we paid, if not very close.

Do what you need to do in the short term if it gets you out there and enjoying nature.  There is no saying you cannot go back once things get a little bit easier! :)


CanuckExpat

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2017, 12:34:15 AM »
I guess I'm wondering if campers, by default, are a waste of money. I'm worried that sites for them will be more expensive/harder to find than tent sites. I'm concerned about the vehicle we'd need to pull one (we don't have anything now that's sufficient). And I'm wondering if this is one of those things that SEEM like a cool idea, but will sit in our driveway all year...
On the pro side: we love to travel and love to be outside, but are struggling to find a way to do this more with a kid. I think a camper would be cheaper in the long run than renting cabins every couple of months, which is what we did a bunch last year. And cheaper/more feasible for sure than buying a second home in the mountains (though that may be a long-term goal)... this seems like a good solution for the next 5-6 years or so. Thoughts from people that have them?

My concerns would start with that you would have to be buying a vehicle specifically to tow it: Is this in addition to what you own now, will it be replacing an extra vehicle? What are your current vehicles that you use for camping? How many days did you camp last year and do you see yourself doing more? If you are limited by available vacation days, you won't suddenly get more.

There might be options that are towable by your current vehicle if you want to consider that. The Scamp 13 for example clocks in about 1500 lbs : http://www.scamptrailers.com/showroom/13-standard-trailers.html#!20160219_094824_clipped_rev_2_633
You can find some lighter ones when you go retro, but they are hard to find.

Consider all the costs: registration, storage, winteri-zation, and maintenance. Just sitting out in the sun will do a number on plastic, rubber, and paint. Driving around will rattle things inside and you will have to maintain them. Towing will put a greater load on your tow vehicle.

Things to consider :)
(Though for reference, we own a rather large motorhome, so not to throw stones or anything)

Goldielocks

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2017, 12:24:22 AM »
I think you need to decide -- do you really like camping,  or is this just  a poor man's stepping stone to a cabin that you own?  If you truly think a cabin is in your future, do not spend on a camper now.

A cabin is very different from camping.   If you really just want to get away into the woods frequently, I HIGHLY recommend, just renting a small cabin when you want to go.  (Fall / spring rates are cheap, find somewhere not too trendy).


A second choice not stated here is to get a timeshare in the secondary market for a few thousand, (plus maybe $600 per year in fees) that gives you a week each year, where you like, and then also go tent camping one time each year.   I know I did not have a lot of vacation time allowance when kids were small, so that should be plenty for most young families...


I camp, and now have a popup trailer....  but remember
- purchase price can be high, you need that larger vehicle to tow, STORAGE and MAINTENANCE is a lot more hassle and costs than expected, and the towing fuel costs are higher as well.  We pay licensing and insurance on ours... etc. 
- most pop up trailers here, new, start a $15k..  Wow.

Mtngrl

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2017, 09:02:15 AM »
A camper can be mustachian if you really like to camp and will use it and not keep it parked in the driveway all but three days a year. We moved from a tent to a pop-up and now have a small fifth wheel. Buy used -- lots of people get brand new campers then find they don't use them much and sell them on Craigslist. Living in Colorado, you have access to tons of national forest land where you can camp for free. We almost never pay for campsites. I love that with a camper you can keep it packed and when you decide to go, just load in some food, hook up and go. When we were working, my husband could get off work at 5 on a summer afternoon and two hours later we could be set up in the national forest for a weekend of camping. Being able to do this meant we went camping a lot more. We've carried that practice into retirement, only now we can go mid-week or for several weeks at a time. Also, we often use our camper instead of a hotel room when we travel. For instance, we're going to a family reunion later this year and instead of getting a hotel room and paying a pet sitter, we're taking the dogs and the camper and camping on some land a family member owns. We'll spend a little more in gas, but much less overall.

spokey doke

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2017, 10:34:59 AM »
One of my hobbies is spending way too much time looking into vehicle options that can support camping/hiking/biking (we mostly backpack now, but want to move to do a bit more car camping in our region).

Rather than rehearse all of the options I find attractive (I'd really like a van at the moment), I'll just mention the stealth cargo trailer conversions that are out there:

http://www.tnttt.com/viewforum.php?f=42


whiskeyjack

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2017, 03:01:45 PM »
Upon further consideration, given your username, I think you need to build one of these:








gaja

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2017, 03:24:21 PM »
I've always wanted the rooftop tent, but with an electric car we can't afford the range loss due to increased air resistance. So we bought a van and made a campervan comversion instead. The van is also our day to day car, just with the bed and other stuff removed. You don't need a very large one to use it as a campervan. This is our setup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TusWWeCN2dg

Mtngrl

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #35 on: January 22, 2017, 05:13:31 PM »
OP you might also want to rent a trailer or pop up tent trailer for a few nights to try it before you decide.

Good idea!  We did this -- rented a pop-up and camped for 10 days -- then we bought one.

CanuckExpat

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2017, 07:22:39 PM »
We stayed with boondockerswelcome.com people for most of our trip, only spending 5 nights paying for a camp site.  I consider that pretty mustachian.

Did you find the membership fee for the site worth it? Did most people allow you to plug in as well? Were they in rural areas, the city, suburbs? What was your experience like?

Hi Miss Prim, we can take this to another thread if it's too off-topic :_)

MrsPete

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Re: Campers: are they anti-mustachian?
« Reply #37 on: January 23, 2017, 09:39:04 AM »
I have three pieces of advice:

- Before you buy, do your best to borrow or rent a camper so you can see first-hand how you like this style of camping. 

- Buy used.  Hopefully you can one day sell it for roughly what you paid, and you'll be out near nothing. 

- Be honest with yourself about how often you're likely to use it.  Then do the math (including tags, taxes, upkeep, storage, campground fees ... and, yes, tow vehicle) and determine how many times you'd have to camp to break even.  Compare that to renting a cabin in a state /national park; that's not 'specially cheap, but it also isn't expensive.